All about the SPA

Lorraine Rowley looks at the benefits of visiting a spa

The word SPA ‘Sanus Per Aquam’, means ‘health by or through water’ and the name is derived from the village Spa, in Belgium, where hot mineral springs were used by Roman soldiers to treat aching muscles and wounds from battle.

Today, thankfully those seeking the rejuvenation and relaxation offered by a spa no longer need to travel to a geographic location known for mineral springs.

In this hectic modern world we live in, with our busy work schedules, our families, our worries and stress, there are moments when we all find we just want to switch off from all external stimuli and escape into another world every so often, even if it’s just for a few hours.

A visit to a spa can offer just that, somewhere you can go to, to relax, unwind, detox and recharge in an environment that takes you away from your everyday stresses and to a place that can help you indulge in some much-needed ‘me’ time.

The word SPA ‘Sanus Per Aquam’, means ‘health by or through water’ and the name is derived from the village Spa, in Belgium, where hot mineral springs were used by Roman soldiers to treat aching muscles and wounds from battle. However social bathing in healing waters is an ancient practice that dates back to before even the Greeks and Romans made it popular.
Today, thankfully those seeking the rejuvenation and relaxation offered by a spa no longer need to travel to a geographic location known for mineral springs.

The modern-day Spa can cater for a range of health-promoting experiences and provides both physical and mental health benefits. They are also no longer the exclusive domain of the very rich and are accessible to everyone wanting to de-stress or simply enjoy a good pampering.

There are several types of spas, including day spas, overnight spas, and destination spas.

Day Spas typically offer all kinds of body treatments, including facials, massages, manicures, pedicures and aromatherapy. With larger day spas also offering more advanced treatment options, including body wraps, skin exfoliation, and body scrubs. Facilities may also include hydrotherapy treatments such as pools, saunas, mud baths, steam rooms and baths.

A destination spa also offers accommodation, so visitors are able to sleep and eat there.

But what are some of the health benefits we can achieve from a visit to a spa?

Reduces Stress
A spa visit gives you the opportunity to separate yourself from life’s everyday stresses, allowing yourself time to wind down and relax. Many spas use stress relieving products with soothing scents like eucalyptus, lavender and aloe to help relieve stress. With physical relaxation brings along a rested mind.

The human touch has also been shown to release the hormone oxytocin, which helps to counteract the stress hormones. Reducing stress can have positive improvements on your mental and physical health and can promote a feeling of general well-being.

Helps with sleep problems
Many spa treatments can help improve sleep, warm water triggers relaxation. Heat raises your body temperature and relaxes your muscles, making you feel more relaxed and soothes your body tension, which can help you sleep better.

Massages also completely relax your muscles and lower your blood pressure, helping you to maintain a healthy heart rate, all of which contribute to a better night’s sleep.

Relieves aches and pains
Aches and pains are a common occurrence for many. Physical health benefits can be gained from various spa therapies and treatments. Warm water helps relax the body and can help to alleviate aches and pains caused from joint issues, including athletic injuries and even arthritis and fibromyalgia.

A relaxing massage can also be a great way to relieve aches and pains, either a full body massage or one that focuses on your problem areas which will help to fully relax the muscle tissue.

Improved blood flow and circulation
When circulation is poor conditions such as swelling, tightness, tension and pain can increase. Massage stimulates the flow of blood and lymph vessels, therefore boosting circulation.

Thermal facilities such as hydrotherapy pools, saunas and steam rooms are also particularly beneficial for blood circulation, which in turn has many advantageous effects to your health, including support with helping the body to fight off illnesses.

Great for the skin
A facial is a great way to exfoliate the skin on your face, hydrating and promoting the regeneration of skin cells. Heat from saunas and steam rooms open up your pores giving them a chance to work out dirt and impurities from your skin.

Warm steam and an increase in perspiration dilates your blood vessels and increases circulation, this boost of blood flow delivers oxygen to your skin, resulting in nourished, healthy and glowing skin.

Improve self confidence
The simple act of taking an hour or two to unwind, releases stress so you feel and look better.

Pampering oneself with body spa experiences such as massages, facials, foot scrubs, manicures and pedicures can reap psychological benefits and can improve self-confidence. When you feel good you automatically think good too.

It is important to remind yourself that you deserve happiness, taking time for self-care has benefits that are good for the mind, body and soul and when we take care of ourselves we are better prepared to handle whatever life throws at us.

So, whether you’re visiting a spa for a few hours, for a day, a weekend or a week, know that you’re doing something really positive towards your self-care and overall well-being.